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News & Media

APLU Office Highlight: Urban Initiatives: How University Collaboration Drives Innovation

May 24, 2016

By Shari Garmise

Collaboration, both on campus and off, is a powerful strategy to advance university innovation. The USU/APLU Office of Urban initiatives is using that strategy in its key efforts. First, our Collaborating for Change effort, a six-year initiative implemented supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is supporting a set of public urban research universities planning and implementing transformational – often disruptive – campus practices that advance student success. These transformations are particularly focused on admitting, retaining, educating, and graduating high-need, traditionally at-risk students while reducing costs, re-examining business models, and fostering mutually beneficial campus-community engagements. 

Participating institutions understand the transformative power of collaboration on their campus, in their community, and with each of their peers. Over the next few years, Florida International University, Georgia State University, and Portland State University will share improvements in advising, teaching and learning, and pathways into and through college.  Transformations of note include improved delivery and student learning in high-failure, high-enrollment gateway courses for over 41,000 students; integrated use of financial risk indicators to mitigate risk and increase student retention; and the creation of flexible degree programs and degree roadmaps to improve the progression of adult and nontraditional learners.  

Second, our Urban Universities for HEALTH Learning Collaborative, a partnership with the Association of American Medical Colleges and the National Institutes of Health, which has been ongoing for the past four years, is poised to release a final version of our data dashboard containing key health workforce metrics that will help university leaders track their progress toward workforce goals and impact on community health outcomes.  We also completed a year-long collaborative effort, in which research experts from nearly 30 universities across the country convened to develop action items for improving evidence for university strategies that will diversity the biomedical research workforce. Look for the publication soon. And over the past six months, with the support of NIH and the Health Resources Services Administration, we've been developing and piloting a training workshop for nursing schools to help them implement holistic admissions practices. Our prior research has shown that nursing schools are not taking advantage of this evidence-based practice at the same rates as other health profession schools, primarily due to lack of knowledge and training resources. We're looking forward to refining them and sharing the results of the pre- and post-tests in a final report next month. 

Finally, we are working with nine institutions to replicate completion grants, which are small grants provided to students who are academically on track and often a semester or two away from completing degrees, but have been derailed by financial need as low as $300, often due to unexpected needs. Supported by Lumina Foundation and Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation, this collaborative project funds Cleveland State University, Florida International, Kent State University, The Ohio State University, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, University of Central Florida, University of Houston, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, and Wayne State.  Georgia State University, IUPUI and Virginia Commonwealth University, which have well-established programs, are serving as mentors to the others.
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Shari Garmise is vice president of APLU’s Office of Urban Initiatives and the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities.

  • Coalition of Urban Serving Universities

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